Saturday, April 16, 2011

St. Michael's Cemetery

Every year I like to take advantage of tours in our historic St. Michael's Cemetery, located in the downtown area of Pensacola.  Last Saturday, April 9th, St. Michael's hosted a very special Free Day with sixty individual stations set up throughout the cemetery  for demonstrations of remote sensing; masonry, brick, metal fence, stone conservation; talks about prominent historical people buried in St. Michael's and epidemics through the centuries; Iconology and meanings; and even information about a botanical survey of St. Michael's Cemetery which mapped out over 450 species of wild grass and wildflowers. 

St. Michael's Cemetery was recently awarded a grant of over $100,000 from IMPACT 100 (please click on the highlighted link to learn more about this incredible group of local women), which is helping to fund many repairs/restoration of this historic landmark which covers 8 acres.

Below are some of the photos I took last Saturday:

This oval-shaped berm area was consecrated by St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church for the burial of local priests and pastors.

One of the most prominent markers in the cemetery is that of Daniel Sullivan (1833-1884), a local lumber baron who was born in Ireland.
Beautiful detail is seen on many headstones, markers and mausoleums.
 This is one of my favorite sculptures in St. Michael's.
Members of various historical and genealogical societies dressed in costumes that day and presented talks about historical residents of the city, now buried at St. Michael's.

Photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.  This sign tells a bit more about the St. Michael's Cemetery Comprehensive Botanical Survey.

Sad little headstones of beloved children.
Through the decades, a large live oak enveloped a headstone.
Dr. Eugenio Sierra worked as a surgeon in the Spanish royal hospital in 1785, but by the mid-1790's had became a prominent doctor in Pensacola.  His is a fascinating story you may read by clicking on the link.

Dr. Sierra was known to have purchased a guillotine in New Orleans and brought it to Pensacola to use for amputations!

This marker is one of the few original wooden markers from St. Michael's Cemetery which remain.  It is generally kept in a museum but was brought to the site for display on this day.  Local woodcarvers took the original markers and recreated them using cypress.  The photo below is the finished reproduction of this marker. 
As you can see, the gray of the cypress wood almost matches stone markers nearby.
The unique 'table' of stone is the marker for two young wives who died during a yellow fever epidemic in Pensacola. 

I hope you will take time to visit St. Michael's Cemetery.  It holds so many stories and secrets which span its more than 200 year history.   

You can print off a map and take a self-guided tour.  In fact, if you have a smart phone (iPhone, Droid, etc.) you may be very interested in trying the Next Exit History app which, as they say, can literally put history in your hands with its database of over 35,000 historical sites.  Check out more about this new software app by clicking HERE.

1 comment:

Pat Harris said...

That was interesting. Thank you for sharing.